Extraordinary Entrepreneurs: Irish Imbas Books
New Zealand - Wellington
My name is Brian O’Sullivan and I’m from County Cork. These days I’m mostly based in New Zealand (ironic, given that, geographically, this is about as far as you can possibly get from Ireland).
To counter some of the homesickness I was feeling when I first got to New Zealand, my partner and I set up Irish Imbas Books – a small publishing/producing company for Irish fiction. Despite being based on the other side of the planet, we’re the only Irish company that specializes in fiction based on accurate elements of Irish culture, history, and mythology.
All of our works contain strong, rarely seen elements of Irish culture and history. While we’re focused on delivering content that’s culturally authentic, we’re also careful that they’re exciting, entertaining, and easy to absorb. Our experience to date indicates that people learn cultural concepts more effectively through entertainment narratives than through strict educational teaching and our aim is to make that as seamless as possible.
Most of our products are books and we have strong fan following all over the world. The first book in our Fionn mac Cumhaill Series was a finalist in Mark Lawrence’s SPFBO 2016 competition (a major fantasy competition for small/independent publishers). The first book in the Irish Woman Warrior Series (Liath Luachra: The Grey One) meanwhile, was adapted for the screen as a potential television series.
Although some projects are not publicly available, most of our books can be obtained in digital form through the major e-bookstores (Amazon / Google Play / Kobo / iBooks / Barnes & Noble etc.) or through our own Book Shop.
Hard copies of our books can be obtained through Amazon or ordered from most physical bookshops.
What’s Our Motivation?
We have four key motivations for doing what we do.
Firstly, we’re utterly passionate about culture and language – ancient and contemporary. Honestly, on a personal level, I could quite happily spend the rest of my life browsing through university databases or arcane, dust-covered books on Gaelic culture and improving my Gaeilge!
Secondly, I love writing, scripting and telling stories. It’s what I enjoy most and what I think I do best.
Thirdly, we’re keen to address the huge misrepresentation of Irish / Gaelic culture on the internet.
Lastly, we want to help revitalise Irish / Gaelic culture in terms of language, cultural knowledge systems and cultural identity.
What does ‘Imbas’ mean?
‘Imbas’ is a very ancient word meaning ‘knowledge’. Unlike the modern Irish equivalent (eolas), ‘imbas’ has always had the connotation of ‘restricted knowledge’. Most often, it was used when referring to the secret knowledge kept by the druids or poets.
In some respects, that knowledge is still restricted in that a lot of Irish cultural knowledge remains locked away in the realms of academia or it’s misrepresented on the internet. In this respect, it’s clear that much of it remains inaccessible to the general population.
Given the work we do and the material we use, Irish Imbas seemed a natural fit.
Irish Imbas Books are part of the 2022 To Be Irish Gifting Guide.